The last two years in Congress have been “sweet and sour” for Rep. Scott Tipton. In a meeting with The Durango Herald’s editorial board on Monday, the freshman legislator representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District outlined what he considered his legislative “wins” during a period in Washington defined by gridlock.
He touted several bills he sponsored including one that declares Chimney Rock a national monument and another that expedites hydropower projects on existing canals and pipelines by eliminating steps in the regulatory process. Both passed in the House, but are still making their way through the Senate. Chimney Rock was declared a monument by presidential proclamation last week.
Tipton, whose Democratic challenger Sal Pace was in town earlier this month, also touted the Healthy Forest Management Act, a bill he sponsored, focusing on treating forests plagued by bark beetle kill, drought or deteriorating conditions.
The bill allows state governments to identify certain areas of imminent threat, allowing them to receive thinning treatment without the requirement of a full environmental analysis usually required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The congressman predicted this year’s lame duck session will be a busy one. House Speaker John Boehner promised to bring the Farm Bill to the floor for a vote, Tipton said.
Meanwhile, the federal government is headed toward a “fiscal cliff” budget-wise as the yearend expiration date nears for a host of tax cuts, Tipton said. At the same time, automatic spending cuts under sequestration are scheduled to take effect at the beginning of 2013.
Tipton predicted Congress would push through a one-year extension of the individual tax cuts, which include the Bush tax cuts.
On the subject of sequestration, Tipton supported the idea of scrutinizing military expenditures in the process of producing a deficit-reduction package.
“To say there is no waste in the military industrial complex would be a grave error,” he said.
Military functions “have to be on the table,” he said.
If re-elected, Tipton said he will reintroduce the Healthy Forest Management bill.
Also he will reintroduce the Planning for American Energy Act, a bill that passed in the House and directs the secretary of the interior and the secretary of agriculture to put together a four-year plan for resource development on public lands “with a goal for increasing energy independence and production,” according to the bill summary.
On the topic of renewable energy, Tipton said he supports the wind production tax credit. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has doggedly promoted an extension of the tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of the year.
Tipton didn’t give a sure sign whether he would participate in a debate against Pace at Fort Lewis College, which is both candidates’ alma mater.
He hadn’t yet found a place to fit the debate into his schedule, Tipton said. The candidates are scheduled to debate in Pueblo Oct. 10.